The significant difference in the second Test was that the Springboks were able to keep up the intensity in the second half against British and Irish Lions.
CAPE TOWN – Siya Kolisi said that the Springboks felt “more prepared” for Saturday’s second Test against the British and Irish Lions, and that played a major part in their 27-9 victory at Cape Town Stadium.
The South Africans managed to level the series at 1-1 going into next weekend’s decider at the same venue by imposing themselves physically on the visitors and dealing with their kicking game much more convincingly.
They also varied their play on attack, sometimes going up the middle, or then passing it wide and using little chips and grubber kicks to find space.
Makazole Mapimpi – who was the Man of the Match and scored a try – Cheslin Kolbe and Damian de Allende contested the Boks’ kicks on to the Lions well too.
But the significant difference on Saturday was that Kolisi and his team were able to keep up the intensity in the second half, which saw the Lions fall away from the battle the longer the game went on.
That had a lot to do with the fact that they had another week to prepare, compared to the first Test, where many players hadn’t train for a while and had only just recovered from Covid-19.
“I said it last week, that one of the positives was that we got another game under our belts, which was very important. And it helped us a lot, even though we didn’t get the win, to see where we can fix things and our legs were stretched,” Kolisi said in a post-match press conference.
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“We knew what we could do better, and then in the second half, we felt more prepared and we knew what we wanted to do. Nothing changed – we didn’t do anything differently. We stuck to our system, and it helped the squad a lot.
“But the willingness, and chasing the kicks and winning the scraps, we were more dominant this week.
“That is what we are going to need next week. We are grateful that we have another opportunity, so next week, it doesn’t matter how many games we played, the next game is the most important.”
Kolisi had a fine game himself, getting across the field as a ball-carrier and working hard in defence. He saved a certain try before halftime when he got underneath Lions centre Robbie Henshaw, who had caught the ball and went over the tryline.
The Bok No 6, though, knows that despite an 18-point winning margin, it doesn’t mean that his team are going to clinch the series easily next Saturday.
“I think Jacques (Nienaber) said it to us in the week, when he said that there was not much that needed to be said. We were actually calm in the week. We knew the mistakes that we made, and the coaches said that we can only control what we can control, which is our set-piece and the kicking game,” Kolisi said.
“And the attitude in terms of the physicality is not something you can coach. That is why we were chosen in the team, and that is what we needed.
“We did what we needed to do, but there is still one more game to go, and there is a lot that we can still improve on. They stole a couple of our balls, and we were able to disrupt their ball as well.
“Nothing will change for us. We’ve just got to do things better, and in the set-piece, try and win more of our balls, and get more dominance in the scrums … And work harder off the ball. And of course, it’s all about who can control the kicking game.”